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Jeep to debut new lineup of Cherokee SUVs amid calls to remove the Native-American based name

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Members of the Cherokee Nation are calling for automaker Jeep to remove the word "Cherokee" from its eponymous line of SUV cars. Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the tribe is not honored "by having our name plastered on the side of the car." Errol Barnett reports.

Video Transcript

JERICKA DUNCAN: Jeep's newly updated Grand Cherokee is expected to roll into dealership showrooms this spring. It's a top seller worldwide but its image is shifting and, soon, so might its name. CBS's transportation correspondent Errol Barnett explains.

- Nothing in Cherokee's class even comes close.

ERROL BARNETT: It's been a common sight in America's driveways and back roads for generations. But now, Jeep's Cherokee brand is facing calls to end the ride.

RHONDA LEVALDO: Their wishes need to be respected.

ERROL BARNETT: Rhonda LeValdo from the Acoma Pueblo tribe is supporting the Cherokee Nation, in a first-of-its-kind effort to have their name removed from the eponymous SUV. Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says, quote, "it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of the car."

RHONDA LEVALDO: We don't feel honored by using our likeness to sell products, or even for sports teams. And it also leads to that stereotype that we're no longer here.

ERROL BARNETT: Leading a group called Not In Our Honor, this Haskell Indian Nations University faculty member is also asking Kansas City's football team to change its name and stop the tomahawk chop.

RHONDA LEVALDO: People don't really see us for who we are.

SHARON CARTY: For the first time, folks are really paying attention.

ERROL BARNETT: Sharon Carty is the editor in chief of "Car and Driver," the first to report on the Cherokee Nation's request to Jeep.

SHARON CARTY: Cherokee is one of the strongest brands they have in the market right now.

ERROL BARNETT: So fair to say that it is a cornerstone of the Jeep company?

RHONDA LEVALDO: Yes, it's definitely a cornerstone.

ERROL BARNETT: Jeep's new parent company said they are committed to open dialogue with the Cherokee Nation. But the company will soon debut a new Grand Cherokee model. Carty says recent history proves Native American brand name changes, even under pressure, are unpredictable.

SHARON CARTY: As we've seen with the Washington football team, and sometimes you see other places where the folks just dig in their heels, like the Atlanta Braves. Which is why LeValdo keeps pushing.

RHONDA LEVALDO: I would ask people to look at us from a different perspective, as human beings, and respect our identity.

ERROL BARNETT: A request to reconsider what's really in a name. Errol Barnett, CBS News, New York.